Facebook Will Now Pay You for Voice Recordings (Instead of Spying)

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Facebook will now offer to pay some of its users for providing voice recordings that the social media giant will use to improve its speech recognition systems.

The company announced the new initiative, dubbed Pronunciations, on Thursday. And, while Facebook didn’t mention it, the program seems like a way forward after Facebook was caught along with other companies listening to and transcribing voice recordings without user knowledge.

Pronunciations will be part of the company’s Viewpoints market research app.

It’s worth noting that Viewpoints was released in the wake of another Facebook controversy. (Specifically, the VPN-based research app that skirted Apple’s App Store restrictions through the use of side-loading.)

If you’d like to participate, you’ll need to actually apply for the program. If you qualify for it, Facebook will require you to say “Hey Portal” followed by the first name of someone on your friend’s list. You’ll be able to repeat this up to 10 minutes.

Don’t expect to make much money if you do choose to participate. Facebook says it’ll offer 200 points in Viewpoints for each set of recordings.

You won’t be able to cash out until you get 1,000 points, which roughly translates to about a $5 payment via PayPal.

But Facebook does note that it may offer up to five sets of recordings, which is enough to actually cash out that $5 payment.

There are a few other caveats to the program, too. Currently, it’s only open to U.S. Facebook users who are 18 years of age or older and have more than 75 friends. It also won’t be available right away to everyone. But it’s a server-side rollout, so you won’t need to update the app to see it.

While you may have privacy concerns with actually offering up your voice, Facebook maintains that any recordings you provide won’t be connected to your social media accounts. The activities you perform on Viewpoints are also kept away from your Facebook or Instagram social feeds.

And though it isn’t directly related, it’s hard to see the move as wholly separate from Facebook’s larger push toward a better privacy reputation — which includes a planned rollout of end-to-end encryption across its social media platforms.

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